Have you recently adjusted to having Millennials around your office? Well, don't get too comfortable. Gen Z (born 1995 - 2012) is about to descend on your company, and they have their own rules.

This is the first digital native generation - the generation that has never known what it's like to live without technology - so they expect technology to continuously increase their productivity. They view technology as an engrained, positive aspect of the workforce, rather than as something that may hinder productivity or replace jobs.

They also won't be overly impressed with your social media presence, website, or various dashboards, because they assume you will have it.

They are also our largest generation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Gen Z outnumbers Millennials and Baby Boomers, as they make up 25% of the population. And while it may seem easy to think of anyone under 30 as a single generation, the truth is that Millennials and Gen Z-ers are radically different.

David Stillman, author of GenZ @ Work shares that Millennials were raised in a very secure, prosperous environment, but Gen Z'ers were raised during a global recession and the painfully slow recovery that followed.

They are Driven and Competitive

Millennials entered the workplace looking for work/life balance, after watching their parents work 60-70 hour weeks. Conversely, Gen Z'ers expect to start at the bottom and work their way up.

Gen Z'ers are also much more competitive than Millennials. They are not as focused on collaboration. "Baby Boomers are going to love their competitive nature," said Stillman. "We haven't seen a competitive generation like this since the Boomers."

They also have the most optimistic and inclusive attitudes compared to any other generation, according to Ernst & Young's survey of 2,000 company interns.

They Value Diversity, Ambition, and Job Satisfaction

EY recently held its 2017 International Intern Leadership Conference. In the participant survey, they learned the following:

  • They view their diverse mindset as a strength and competitive differentiator. 84% of respondents reported that their open-mindedness, and their ability to work well with people from different backgrounds and cultures positively sets them apart from older job candidates. This sentiment is particularly apparent among black respondents, 97% of whom cited this; followed by Hispanic (87%) and white individuals (82%).
  • Gen Z'ers are ambitious and focused. 84% of respondents reported that career progression and growth is their most important priority when evaluating potential employers. Salary was at the bottom of the scale with just 1% listing this as a priority. Additional valued benefits include opportunities for global travel (24%) and schedule flexibility (50%).
  • Gen Z'ers highly value job satisfaction. Unlike many generations before them, overall job satisfaction is very important. Given that only 32% of employees today are engaged and happy at work, this factor has the potential to fully disrupt the workforce. 66% say that job satisfaction is just as important as financial stability.

While this generation seems to be permanently connected to their devices, Stillman found that they still prefer face-to-face communication. However, they want it fast, focused, and actionable. They move quickly, and expect others around them to do the same.

They Want to Customize Their Experience

They are also interested in what Stillman calls "hyper-customization." They've likely gone through a college program that allowed them to customize their own major. They've grown up in an environment with hyper-targeted marketing.

They are bringing these attitudes into the workforce. More than half (56%) of the Gen Z members Stillman surveyed said they want to write their own job descriptions, and 62% want to customize their own career path.

As you expand your organization, remember to think about how Gen Z has experienced the world, and views life. Their ambition, open-mindedness, and commitment to job satisfaction can yield great benefits for those that embrace our future leaders.